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Organizational behavior

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Organizational behavior

Organizational Behavior (OB) or Organisational behaviour is "the study of [1]

OB can be divided into three levels.[2] The study of :

  1. individuals in organizations (micro-level),
  2. work groups (meso-level),
  3. how organizations behave (macro-level).


  • Overview 1
  • Contributing disciplines 2
  • Relation to industrial and organizational psychology 3
  • History 4
  • Current state of the field 5
  • Methods used 6
    • Quantitative research 6.1
    • Computer simulation 6.2
    • Qualitative research 6.3
  • Topics 7
    • Counterproductive work behavior 7.1
    • Decision-making 7.2
    • Employee mistreatment 7.3
      • Abusive supervision 7.3.1
      • Bullying 7.3.2
      • Incivility 7.3.3
      • Sexual harassment 7.3.4
    • Teams 7.4
    • Job-related attitudes and emotions 7.5
    • Leadership 7.6
    • Managerial roles 7.7
    • Motivation 7.8
    • National culture 7.9
    • Organizational citizenship behavior 7.10
    • Organizational culture 7.11
    • Personality 7.12
    • Occupational stress 7.13
    • Work-family 7.14
  • Organization theory 8
    • Bureaucracy 8.1
    • Economic theories of organization 8.2
    • Institutional theory 8.3
    • Organizational ecology 8.4
    • Organization structures and dynamics 8.5
    • Scientific management 8.6
    • Systems theory 8.7
  • Journals 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12



Contributing disciplines

  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Political Sciences
  • Economics

Relation to industrial and organizational psychology

Miner (2006) pointed out that "there is a certain arbitrariness" in identifying "a point at which organizational behavior became established as a distinct discipline" (p. 56), suggesting that it could have emerged in the 1940s or 1950s.[5] He also underlined the fact that the industrial psychology division of the American Psychological Association did not add "organizational" to its name until 1970, "long after organizational behavior had clearly come into existence" (p. 56), noting that a similar situation arose in sociology. Although there are similarities and differences between the two disciplines, there is still much confusion as to the nature of differences between organizational behavior and organizational psychology.[6]


As a multi-disciplinary field, organizational behavior has been influenced by developments in a number of allied disciplines including sociology, psychology, economics, and engineering as well as by the experience of practitioners.

The rational-legal principles and maximized technical efficiency.[7] However, Weber also raised concerns about the iron cage: that the efficiency of bureaucracy came at the cost of individuality.

A number of practitioners documented their ideas on management and organisation. Perhaps the best known today are

  • Ash, M.G. (1992). "Cultural Contexts and Scientific Change in Psychology: Kurt Lewin in Iowa." American Psychologist, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 198–207.
  • Hatch, M.J. (2006), "Organization Theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives." 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-926021-4.
  • Helge H, Sheehan MJ, Cooper CL, Einarsen S “Organisational Effects of Workplace Bullying” in Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2010)
  • Jones, Ishmael (2008), The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. New York: Encounter Books ISBN 978-1-59403-382-7.
  • Richmond, Lewis (2000), Work as a Spiritual Practice: A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth and Satisfaction on the Job, Broadway
  • Robbins, Stephen P. (2004) Organizational Behavior - Concepts, Controversies, Applications. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-170901-1.
  • Robbins, S. P. (2003). Organisational behaviour: global and Southern African perspectives. Cape Town, Pearson Education South Africa.
  • Salin D, Helge H “Organizational Causes of Workplace Bullying” in Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2010)
  • Scott, W. Richard (2007). Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspectives. Pearson Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-195893-3.
  • Weick, Karl E. (1979). The Social Psychology of Organizing 2nd Ed. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-554808-9.
  • Simon, Herbert A. (1997) Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations, 4th ed., The Free Press.
  • Tompkins, Jonathan R. (2005) "Organization Theory and Public Management".Thompson Wadsworth ISBN 978-0-534-17468-2
  • Kanigel, R. (1997). The One Best Way, Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency. London: Brown and Co.
  • Images of Organization Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

Further reading

  1. ^ a b Moorhead, G., & Griffin, R. W. (1995). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations (5th edition). Boston. Houghton Mifflin, (p.4)
  2. ^ Wagner, J. A., & Hollenbeck, J. R. (2010). Organizational behavior: Securing competitive advantage. New York: Routledge.
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ Simms, L.M., Price, S.A., & Ervin, N.E. (1994). The professional practice of nursing administration.Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers. (p. 121)
  5. ^ a b Miner, J.B. (2006). Organizational behavior, Vol. 3: Historical origins, theoretical foundations, and the future. Armonk, NY and London: M.E. Sharpe.
  6. ^ Jex, S. & Britt, T. (2008). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley.
  7. ^ a b Weber, Max. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1947.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Price, B 1989, ‘Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and the Manufacture and Marketing of Motion Study, 1908-1924’, Business and Economic History, vol. 18, no. 2
  12. ^ Cullen, David O'Donald. A new way of statecraft: The career of Elton Mayo and the development of the social sciences in America, 1920–1940. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1992; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text.
  13. ^ Simon, Herbert A. (1997) Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations, 4th ed., The Free Press.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Taylor, S. & Hansen, H. (2005). Finding form: Looking at the field of organizational aesthetics. Journal of Management Studies, 42(6), 1211–1231
  16. ^ a b Brewerton, P.M., & Millward, L.J. (2010). Organizational research methods: A guide for students and researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  17. ^ Organizational Research Methods
  18. ^ Harrison, Lin, Carroll, & Carley, 2007
  19. ^ Hughes, H. P. N., Clegg, C. W., Robinson, M. A., & Crowder, R. M. (2012). "Agent-based modelling and simulation: The potential contribution to organizational psychology". Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85(3), 487–502.
  20. ^ Crowder, R. M., Robinson, M. A., Hughes, H. P. N., & Sim, Y. W. (2012). The development of an agent-based modeling framework for simulating engineering team work. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics – Part A: Systems and Humans, 42(6), 1425–1439.
  21. ^ Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2005). The Stressor-Emotion Model of Counterproductive Work Behavior. In S. Fox, P. E. Spector (Eds.) , Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 151-174). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/10893-007
  22. ^ Tepper, B. J. (2000). "Consequences of abusive supervision". Academy of Management Journal, 43(2), 178-190. doi:
  23. ^ Rayner, C., & Keashly, L. (2005). Bullying at Work: A Perspective From Britain and North America. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets. (pp. 271-296). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
  24. ^ Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). "Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace". Academy of Management Review, 74, 452-471.
  25. ^ Rospenda, K. M., & Richman, J. A. (2005). Harassment and discrimination. In J. Barling, E. K. Kelloway & M. R. Frone (Eds.), Handbook of work stress (pp. 149-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  26. ^ Balzer, W. K. & Gillespie, J. Z. (2007). Job satisfaction. In Rogelberg, S. G. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of industrial and organizational psychology Vol. 1 (pp. 406-413). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  27. ^ Allen, N. J. Organizational commitment. In Rogelberg, S. G. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of industrial and organizational psychology Vol. 2 (pp. 548-551). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  28. ^ Ashkanasy, N. M., Härtel, C. E. J., & Daus, C. S. (2002). "Diversity and emotion: The new frontiers in organizational behavior research". Journal of Management, 28(3), 307-338.
  29. ^ Fiedler, F. E. (1978). The contingency model and the dynamics of the leadership process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 59-112). New York: Academic Press.
  30. ^ Graen, G. B., Novak, M. A., & Sommerkamp, P. (1982). "The effects of leader-member exchange and job design on productivity and satisfaction: Testing a dual attachment model". Organizational Behavior & Human Performance, 30(1), 109-131. doi:
  31. ^ Fleishman, E. A., & Harris, E. F. (1962). Patterns of leadership behavior related to employee grievances and turnover. Personnel Psychology, 15, 43-56.
  32. ^ Levy, P. E. (2006). Industrial/organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  33. ^ House, R. J., & Mitchell, T. R. (1974). Path-goal theory of leadership. Contemporary business, 3, 81-98.
  34. ^ Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., & Atwater, L. E. (1996). The transformational and transactional leadership of men and women. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 45, 5-34.
  35. ^ Robbins, S. P. (2009). Organizational behaviour. Cape Town, Pearson.
  36. ^ Baron, Robert A., and Greenberg, Jerald. Behavior in organizations – 9th edition. Pearson Education Inc., New Jersey: 2008. p.248
  37. ^ Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 276-299). New York: Academic Press.
  38. ^ Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: John Wiley.
  39. ^ Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.
  40. ^ Greenberg, J. (1987). A taxonomy of organizational justice theories. Academy of Management Review, 12, 9–22.
  41. ^ Herzberg, F. (1968, January/February). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 52-62.
  42. ^ McGregor, D. M. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  43. ^ Hofstede, Geert, Gert Jan Hofstede and Michael Minkov.Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. 2010
  44. ^ Organ, D. W. (1988). Organizational citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. Lexington, MA, England: Lexington Books/D C Heath and Com.f
  45. ^ Shein, Edgar (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: A Dynamic View. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  46. ^ Kotter, John and Heskett, James L. (1992) Corporate Culture and Performance, Free Press; ISBN 0-02-918467-3
  47. ^ Denison, Daniel R. (1990) Corporate culture and organizational effectiveness, Wiley.
  48. ^ Michel, W., Shoda, Y., & Smith, R. E. (2004). Introduction to personality: Toward an integration. New York: Wiley
  49. ^ Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). The job demands-resources model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 499-512. doi:
  50. ^ Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources and conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10(1), 76-88.
  51. ^ Perrow, C. (1986). Complex organizations: A critical essay (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  52. ^ French, J. R. P., Jr., & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in social power (pp. 150-167). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.
  53. ^ Katz, D., & Kahn, R. L. (1978). The social psychology of organizations (2 ed.). New York: Wiley.
  54. ^
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See also


The systems framework is also fundamental to organizational theory. Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist, developed a sociological systems theory.

Systems theory

Scientific management refers to an approach to management based on principles of engineering. It focuses on incentives and other practices empirically shown to improve productivity.

Scientific management

  • Organigraph
  • Resource dependence theory
  • Informal organization
  • Hybrid organization
  • French and Raven's five bases of power[52]
  • Complexity theory and organizations Organizational ecology models apply concepts from

    Organizational ecology

    Institutional theory

    Economic theories of organization

    • A formal organizational hierarchy
    • Management by rules
    • Organization by functional specialty and selecting people based on their skills and technical qualifications
    • An "up-focused" (to organization's board or shareholders) or "in-focused" (to the organization itself) mission
    • Purposefully impersonal, applying the same rules and structures to all members of the organization

    Weber's principles of bureaucratic organization:



    Organization theory is concerned with explaining the organization as a whole or populations of organizations. The focus of organizational theory is to understand the structure and processes of organizations and how organizations interact with industries and societies. Within business schools, organization theory or OT is considered a separate specialization in management from OB.

    Organization theory

    Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their work role than when acting in roles outside their work role.[3] Work-family conflict occurs when the demands of family and work roles are incompatible, and the demands of at least one role interfere with the discharge of the demands of the other.[50]


    There are number of ways to characterize occupational stress. One way of characterizing it is to term it an imbalance between job demands (aspects of the job that require mental or physical effort) and resources that help manage the demands.[49]

    Occupational stress

    Personality concerns consistent patterns of behavior, Big Five personality traits, which refers to five overarching personality traits.


    Typologies of organizational culture identified specific organisational culture and related these cultures to performance[46] or effectiveness[47] of the organization.

    Schein argued that if any of these three levels were divergent tension would result: if, for example, espoused values or desired behaviors were not consistent with the basic assumptions of an organisation it is likely that these values or behaviors would be rejected.

    • Artifacts and Behaviors
    • Espoused Values
    • Shared Basic Assumptions

    Organizational culture emphasizes the culture of the organization itself. This approach presumes that organizations can be characterized by cultural dimensions such as beliefs, values, rituals, symbols, and so forth.[45] Within this approach, the approaches generally consist of either developing models for understanding organizational culture or developing typologies of organizational culture. Edgar Schein developed a model for understanding organizational culture and identified three levels of organizational culture:

    Organizational culture

    Organizational citizenship behavior is behavior that goes beyond assigned tasks and contributes to the well-being of organizations.[44]

    Organizational citizenship behavior

    • Power distance
    • Individualism vs. collectivism
    • Uncertainty avoidance
    • Masculinity vs. femininity
    • Long-term orientation vs. short term orientation
    • Indulgence vs. restraint

    [43] National culture is thought to affect the behavior of individuals in organizations. This idea is exemplified by

    National culture

    There are several different theories of motivation relevant to OB.

    Baron and Greenberg (2008)[36] wrote that motivation involves "the set of processes that arouse, direct, and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal."


    In the late 1960s Henry Mintzberg, a graduate student at MIT, carefully studied the activities of five executives. On the basis of his observations, Mintzberg arrived at three categories that subsume managerial roles: interpersonal roles; decisional roles; and informational roles.[35]

    Managerial roles

    • [33]
    • Ohio State Leadership Studies identified the dimensions of consideration (showing concern and respect for subordinates) and initiating structure (assigning tasks and setting performance goals).[31][32]
    • Contingency theory says that good leadership depends on characteristics of the leader and the situation.[29]

    There have been a number of approaches and theories that concern leadership. Early theories focused on characteristics of leaders, while later theories focused on leader behavior, and conditions under which individuals can be effective. Some leadership approaches and theories include:


    • Job satisfaction is the feelings one has about the job or facets of the job, such as pay or supervision[26]
    • [27]
    • Emotional labor concerns the requirement that employees display certain emotions, like smiling at customers.[28]

    Organizational behavior deals with employee attitudes and feelings.

    Job-related attitudes and emotions


    Sexual harassment is behavior that denigrates or mistreats an individual due to his or her gender, creates an offensive workplace, and interferes with an individual being able to do the job.[25]

    Sexual harassment

    Workplace incivility consists of low-intensity discourteous and rude behavior with ambiguous intent to harm that violates norms governing appropriate workplace behavior.[24]


    Although definitions of workplace bullying vary, it involves a repeated pattern of harmful behaviors directed towards an individual.[23] In order for a behavior to be termed bullying, the individual or individuals doing the harm have to have either singly or jointly more power than the victim.


    Abusive supervision is the extent to which a supervisor engages in a pattern of behavior that harms subordinates.[22]

    Abusive supervision

    There are several types of mistreatment that employees endure in organizations including abusive supervision, bullying, incivility, and sexual harassment.

    Employee mistreatment

    • Rational planning model
    • Normative decision-making (concerned with how decision is ordinarily made)
    • Descriptive decision-making (concerned with how a thinker arrives at a judgment)
    • Prescriptive decision-making (aims to improve decision-making)


    Counterproductive work behavior consists of behavior by employees that harm or intended to harm organizations and people in organizations.[21]

    Counterproductive work behavior


    Qualitative research[16] consists of a number of methods of inquiry that generally do not involve the quantification of variables. Qualitative methods can range from the content analysis of interviews or written material to written narratives of observations. Some common methods include:

    Qualitative research

    Computer simulation is a prominent method in organizational behavior.[18] While there are many uses for cognition and behavior[19] such as the thought processes and behaviors that make up teamwork.[20]

    Computer simulation

    Statistical methods[16][17] commonly used in OB research include:

    Quantitative research

    A variety of methods are used in organizational behavior, many of which are found in other social sciences.

    Methods used

    • [1]
    • Leadership studies became part of OB.
    • OB researchers have shown increased interest in ethics and its importance in an organization.
    • OB researchers have become interested in the aesthetic sphere of organizations,[15] drawing on theories and methods from the humanities, including theater, literature, music, and art.

    During the last 20 years, there have been additional developments in OB research and practice:

    Research in and the teaching of OB can be found in university industrial and organizational psychology graduate programs.

    Current state of the field

    Starting in the 1980s, cultural explanations of organizations and organizational change became areas of study. Informed by anthropology, psychology and sociology, qualitative research became more acceptable in OB.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the field became more organizational ecology also emerged.


    In the 1920s, the work performance and job satisfaction.[5]

    One of the first management consultants, Frederick Taylor was an engineer and applied engineering principles to increase the efficiency of human work. Taylor advocated the scientific study of work tasks to identify the most efficient way of conducting the task - and approach known as scientific management in the late 19th century.[10] Lillian Gilbreth and Frank Gilbreth extended taylor's ideas to develop the time and motion study to further improve worker efficiency.[11] In the early 20th Century, Fordism - named for Henry Ford - relies on the standardisation of products and the use of assembly lines allowing unskilled workers to operate efficiently. While not explicitly based on either Weber or Taylor's work, Fordism can be seen as the application of bureaucratic and scientific management principles to the entire manufacturing process. The success of both scientific management and Fordism in general led to the widespread adoption of assembly lines and the use of scientific methods to improve the productivity of workers.


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